Gearing down for Warlords

The new Mushan?

The new Mushan?

Yes, I wrote that correctly…

In the wake of the Warlords of Draenor announcement at Blizzcon 2013, I wrote a few posts about my desire to approach the leveling process differently. One of them described my desire to self-nerf: to gear down, as opposed to “gearing up” for the expansion.

There was some discussion about the subject here at the time, and then I put it on the back burner. My preparation for Warlords over the past year – gear-wise –  has basically consisted of keeping a reserve of Timeless Isle tokens on an alt so that, at the least, I could slap that gear on and be done with it.

At the time, Quelys suggested going in with T14 gear, but I got rid of those pieces as I replaced them, for the most part (basically, I kept Fang Kung, Tao’ren, and the DMC). I was thinking I would probably just go with Timeless Isle gear, as I didn’t see myself putting too much effort into it. However, with Patch 6.0 drawing near, over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself soloing MoP heroics, painstakingly assembling a dungeon set. Of course, being the behavior-driven nerd that I am, I found myself upgrading that gear once I discovered that I was Justice-capped. This, in turn, set up a nice cycle for me, where I drove myself to get both the gear that I wanted and the JP to upgrade it.

Mushan's end of MoP dungeon set

Mushan’s end of MoP dungeon set (almost)..

^^Possibly my last screenshot of the old Mushan?

As you can see, as of today, my mission is almost complete. I’m having no luck to-date with respect to pants and helm, but I do have some time before leveling begins. And if worse comes to worse, I’m going with the Golden Lotus JP pants and the 476 PvP crafted helm. The goal is to get down to an overall ilevel of 471 (463 plus upgrades, on average), and I think I can get there with that combination if I can’t come up with those last two pieces.

Some thoughts:

  1. In this set, I’m doing roughly 60k DPS single-target (casually, un-buffed) on a raid dummy. It’s interesting how many times-over the damage multiplies from the beginning heroic dungeons to the end of the expansion. Additionally, I’m sitting at about 55% of my SoO health level.
  2. I’m unclear about how my health level will translate with the stat squish, particularly with respect to mobs on Draenor. However, I’m still confident in my ability to handle them, even though…
  3. I’m planning on leveling as Survival. While part of me wants to try leveling as Marksmanship (and that was my plan previously, because I’d love to try “one-shotting” stuff), it seems to be the new (and only) hotness as far as hunter specs go (thanks Obama Blizz). On the positive side: as gutted as it is, leveling as SV could present me with some challenges, which is something I am definitely interested in. I’m looking for an epic experience, and playing hunter with no Kill Shot and no Multi-Strike… will most likely make killing mobs more challenging, if not epic.
  4. I’m planning on carrying my raid gear with me for dungeon purposes, particularly at the lower levels. I don’t necessarily know that I will run dungeons along the way, but the possibility is definitely there. And if I do run dungeons on occasion while I level, I will not be causing my group any extra anguish brought on by my self-nerfing activities.
  5. I’m still going to level like I have in the past in new expansions with respect to buffs, enchants, gems, etc. I’ll be appropriately specced out, have consumables with me, use drums, etc. I just won’t be starting out grossly overpowered like I used to.

* * *

I mean no offense by this, but I get a chuckle whenever I read about people specifically “gearing up for WoD”… and doing so by raiding. Needing that cloak, needing that heirloom, needing that 4-piece. I fully understand the players who are looking for those items because they’re great to have, but I’ve seen many, many people who are frantically chasing after those pieces for their alts… “for Warlords.” On Twitter. Blogs. WoW Insider.

More power to them, but to me it seems unnecessary.

Think about it this way: I am very, very far from being among the best players in the world… But when I level a new toon, I don’t stop at level 80, get a bunch of raid gear, and then proceed to 85, get some more raid gear, and then proceed to the next endgame; I simply go to the new zone and start tearing it apart. All of my level-90 alts that are between ilvl 510 and 550 are very prepared, gear-wise, to romp through the opening levels of WoD before they start to get some gear… and none of them have either heirloom weapons or legendary cloaks.

It just seems like when we do that, we’re actually “over-preparing to overpower”… like we’re trying to get the biggest hammer possible in order to smash a sandwich with it.

* * *

I’m looking to stretch myself a bit as a player – perhaps for the last time in this game.

I may have mentioned this on Twitter briefly a few weeks back, but I got another promotion in September – my second in the last five months – and, where my free time was limited over the summer, it’s downright precious now. I’ll be very surprised if I raid at all in Warlords, and once I get done playing through Draenor, I don’t know that I will keep going. However, that’s a decision to be made sometime down the road.

As such, I’m looking to have an experience on Draenor. Discovery, story, taking my time and enjoying the scenery. Testing my skills as a hunter. Talking with my friends about it all, here and on Twitter, as time and energy permit. I’m looking forward to it!

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!

Assurance of Consequence

The idea for this post came to me several weeks ago, when I first looked through the list of hunter-eligible gear from raids on At that time, I made a list of pertinent gear – that is, gear that I have a chance to get, gear that is potentially an upgrade over my own. And I was struck by one particular piece. No, it wasn’t the heirloom weapon…

It was a trinket called Assurance of Consequence.

Assurance of Consequence

Assurance of Consequence

This trinket drops from the Sha of Pride, the final boss in the first wing of Siege of Orgrimmar. Which means it also drops in the first wing of flex, which is named Vale of Eternal Sorrows. This is also the name of the first wing of Siege of Orgrimmar, LFR edition.

The skinny

According to Perculia at WoWhead, the latest news on which abilities have reduced cooldowns is that, as of last week, all six abilities have been named for most, if not all, of the potential specs. Since I play Survival, I’ll list the abilities for that spec (to date):

Black Arrow, Camouflage, Disengage, Feign Death, Rapid Fire, Stampede.

It’s a pretty good list, although for PvE, Camouflage does very little for me. But the 35%-plus cooldown reduction of the other abilities with any and every version of this trinket (the reduction improves as the trinket’s ilevel goes up) makes it very tasty.

Of course, the effect is called Readiness

The drop

When I found out about these trinkets, I knew that I wanted to write this post… but I wanted confirmation on something first, so I put it on the back burner.

That confirmation came this week. The Siege of Orgrimmar raid release schedule was announced. The Normal, LFR, and Heroic mode release schedule is exactly the same as it was in 5.2. Click the link if you haven’t seen it yet.

The aftermath

My best hope, or dream-scenario, is that the flex version of this trinket will drop for me next week, and I will never have to set foot in LFR in hopes of getting it.

My reasonable hope is that it drops for me over the next few weeks in flex or LFR.

My reality is that I will probably be grinding out LFR and flex for the next ten weeks, praying for a drop that never comes like I did with the T14 shoulder token from Lei Shi. I fought her to the bitter end on Mushan, and never saw it. I hope it doesn’t come to that with this thing.


Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This trinket looks so good that it seems like a must-have for the performance improvement it potentially affords. As such, until I have one in my grimy clutches, I will be farming the crap out of it.

I didn’t want it to be this way. I wanted to avoid LFR totally on my hunter this tier, and had already made the decision not to chase tier tokens in SoO LFR. But since Blizzard made no alterations to the release schedule, and that trinket becomes a potential LFR drop only a week after the patch starts, I will at least be running LFR for that one. It’s a no-brainer.

Those skeptical of my logic may ask, what difference does it make? They release LFR on 9/17, or they release it a month or two later: either way, you don’t have to run it! Either way, if you can’t/don’t run it, you have the same gear…

I understand that logic.

But I feel a responsibility to making my team the best that it can be. And if being able to move better and do more damage faster – sooner – means I slog it in LFR against my desires, than so be it. I consider myself a leader on my team, at least on the offensive side of the ball, and as a leader, I try to be my best. And this trinket has both DPS and tactical implications that I want to be able to take advantage of as soon as possible: more Rapid Fires and Black Arrows and Stampedes mean more DPS, more Disengages mean possibly more self-healing and better movement options, more FDs mean better survival. So bringing that better Mushan to the table – to the team – is important to me.

Now, if Blizzard had decided to either hold back the release of LFR or not put potentially game-changing items in LFR, then of course I wouldn’t worry about it. But if a piece of gear can help my team, I’m generally going to chase after it every time. I would have a hard time foregoing the opportunity when it’s there. It feels different going into a 10-man team with a goal of progressing without doing your homework than it does knowing you did everything you could to prepare, in my experience.

I wish the game was a little different. But I understand the reasoning behind / arguments for why it is the way it is.

In reality, I have nothing major to complain about. While I personally would prefer that LFR be moot for my main toon for an entire tier, it’s exciting that there will be things to do again, and fun new gear to acquire. I do enjoy playing my hunter over any other toon, after all!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

Frostheim, co-creator of Warcraft Hunters Union (and all that that site has done for us hunters), progenitor of WoW Hunters Hall, long-time Scattered Shots (WoW Insider) columnist, long-time member (and poet laureate) of the Hunting Party Podcast, writer of several amazing odes to hunters, staunch defender of facts and math and balance, advocate for cool new stuff for hunters, recoverer of his own cloak, and generally fun and awesome guy, announced last Saturday on the Hunting Party Podcast – and later that day on WHU – that he is retiring.

Given his recent stretches of absence from the WHU and the HPP, to say that I didn’t see this coming would be incorrect. And he is not quitting the game, but is shutting down his personal commitments to his blogging / podcasting activities in order to devote his time to other ventures. He’s also apparently going to put away his white-quality weapons and lessen the amount of time he spends shooting at target dummies as if they’re trying to invade his city, and actually devote more of his WoW time to playing the game! This is a good thing.

Personally, though – and I know I speak for untold numbers of players out there – I Will Miss You, Frost.

I’m A Hunter

I wasn’t always a hunter. But one of my earliest toons was a hunter back when I started playing shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, although since I was a terrible player (and that’s all the info anyone needs) back then, I failed to get him to level 70.

During the spring of 2010, when the Lich King was dead and we were in the midst of the longest stretch of meaningful-content-less boredom in the history of the game, I started listening to the Hunting Party Podcast. I forget how it happened; the best I can remember is that, as a reader of WoW Insider, I liked Frostheim’s Scattered Shots posts more than just about anything else on the site.

(I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably ready for a change at that point… but anyway, to continue…)

Of course, the header on each of his posts mentioned that he was from Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast, and so I checked them out. And let me say, when someone charismatic like Frostheim is available to be both read and listened to, it can be a powerful combination. I wasn’t much of a podcast-listener in those days – my only constant at the time was the WoW Insider Show, which I haven’t listened to in almost a year now, and I had tried out several others that either didn’t grab me or didn’t stick around. So when I found Darkbrew, Euripides, and Frostheim, I was hooked. I downloaded and listened to every single episode that was available on iTunes, and they were my companions that summer and fall as we inched our way toward the launch of Cataclysm.

Meanwhile, I started a few hunters. Mushan stuck, and the rest is history (which I’ve laid out in previous posts). Playing the hunter that summer and fall, leveling the hunter, doing dungeons on the hunter, was every bit as fun as I had imagined it would be while listening to the HPP. As a player who now had some general skill, I didn’t have any of the problems I had had in 2008 with my long-deleted original. I was topping meters, learning to use my utility abilities, enjoying playing the movement/Auto Shot game, and seriously thinking about making Mushan my main. Which eventually happened.

I was “Ana” back in the day, but now I’m “Mushan,” and that is indescribably largely due to the influence of one Frostheim.

Things lately have been quieter on the Mushan/HPP front. I often work on Saturdays, so I don’t get to listen in live when the show is recorded anymore. And the shows have often taken weeks to come out on iTunes, and so over the past several months I’ve only listened a handful of times, and I expect that to continue.

But I’ve always enjoyed listening to Frostheim, and I’m going to miss that. He has given so much to the hunter community at this point that it’s almost a cliche to say so, but I don’t care. Why?

Because without Frostheim, it’s almost certain that there would be no Mushan. And that’s of some importance, at least to me. He literally rejuvenated my WoW experience by unknowingly reintroducing me to the hunter class. He changed the game for me. Without Frostheim, I might not have switched over to a hunter. Without Frostheim, I might not even be playing the game anymore. At the very least, without Frostheim, this blog would certainly not exist in this form.

The first paragraph of this post probably makes me sound like a bit of a fan-boy. Am I a fan-boy of Frostheim? Hell yes! I think my previous paragraph does a pretty good job explaining why.

And so, to Frostheim, Thank You for all you’ve done for hunters. You’ve been a gift to us these past several years, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be following whatever you do in the future – stay in touch!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

A couple of thoughts on item level

Last week, The Grumpy Elf wrote a thorough (as always) post about ilevel and how it doesn’t always translate to results, given the skill or effort of the player / the actual quality of the gear itself.

Coincidentally, this past week I got to see firsthand a couple of different examples of maxing out ilevel versus maxing out output, and it further illustrated to me, again, how the un-weighted ilevel can be deceiving.

The first came when I jumped into the second half of Mogu’shan Vaults on my druid for some healing action and ‘easy’ VP. At the time, her ilevel was sitting at 503, which is obviously a very comfortable place to be when considering how it trivializes the content I was running. I didn’t check out the other healers initially, although I did notice that one of the other druids had significantly more health than I did once the buffs were distributed.

Through the first two bosses, I noticed that I was handily at the top of the ‘current fight’ heal meter. Since a) I’m still a relatively novice healer, and b) this other druid presumably had better gear than I did, I was surprised by this. There were trash pulls where I didn’t top the meter, but I don’t generally care about trash as long as people stay alive*.

*I generally don’t care about ‘topping the heal meters’ on bosses either, other than as an acknowledgment that I’m doing some things right.

So before Will of the Emperor, I looked up this druid on the armory. He/she had an ilevel of 517, which was all I could discern before I needed to get back to healing on Emperor. Nonetheless, I was kind of baffled. I figured this druid should be crushing me on the charts.

The Will of the Emperor ended up being a tough fight. DPS was low, meaning the fight was longer. I was using my cooldowns – trink, Innervate, happy tree, etc. – as responsibly as possible, and I managed to not be in danger of bottoming out until after the third Titan Gas. At that point, Innervate was on cooldown and mana was getting low.

The reason I was low was in part because this other druid was out of mana, and had been since the second Titan Gas. I repeatedly glanced at my DBM spell CD timers and noticed that I was the only druid with Innervate on cooldown (there were three resto druids total). The healing meter showed that I was doing about 25% of the total heals, and that number was rising, as was the number of healers whose mana bars were clanking on empty. Things were getting serious. I found myself concentrating on the tanks while trying to keep a few Rejuves and Wild Growth bouncing around the raid, but time seemed to be running out. I wanted to type “DRUIDS INNERVATE YOURSELVES!” in /yell, but I didn’t feel I could risk it without a tank dropping dead. So I persevered.

We killed the boss, and in the end, I had done 28% of the healing. 517 Druid had done 14%, and everyone else fell in line  after that.

Now, again, this is not because I am some elite healer; in fact, I’m far from it (I get out-healed regularly by other druids). And I didn’t care about how I did against the priest, the paladin, or the shaman. I was interested, though, in how I did against the druids.

The third druid had very low gear. So that was that. No need to look at that any further. However, 517 interested me quite a bit.

Going back to the armory, I looked at the profile more carefully. 517 had a ton of 522 Valor gear – like, every piece you can buy. A 516 weapon. Some 502 ToT gear to fill in the gaps. At a glance, a respectable assortment.

Given the druid’s obvious mana issues, I looked at gems. Yep, Spirit in there, ok. That’s good. Correct enchants and trinkets. The druid had about as much Spirit as me.

I was still confused. Then, I looked one more time. And two things stuck out to me: a) zero tier pieces and b) ridiculous amounts of Haste.

Because I am still gearing up – I still have the LFR T14 2P (483), 476 Qin’xi trinket, 476 offhand – I’ve constructed my stats around the lowest Haste soft cap (3043 Haste). This translates to a little more than 7% Haste unbuffed.

This druid, on the other hand, had Haste maxed out. Anywhere Haste could be reforged into, Haste was reforged into. Gems were Spirit, Spirit/Haste, or Int/Haste. This druid was sitting at more than 18% Haste unbuffed, a number that I think I would have trouble reaching with my gear – if I even wanted to.

Ok, that explains some of the running out of mana. Faster expensive direct heals all over the place will eat your mana for lunch. Combine that with being lax with the Innervates and wasting heals, and that could explain spending half the fight out of mana. Additionally, having no tier equipped is probably a mistake. I have two 2p bonuses going right now, and they’re pretty damn strong. Sacrificing them for ilvl is likely only hurting this druid.

I’m far from a great healer, but I doubled the heals of a druid 14 ilvls above me on Will of the Emperor. Judging by this druid’s setup, it looked like the player was going for the absolute best ilevel that one could attain without being a raider. And if that’s your aim, you want the Valor legs, chest, gloves and Shado-pan Assault Exalted shoulders, I suppose. However, ilevel isn’t helping this person like it seems it should, although using Innervate on cooldown certainly could…

I’m not looking down at this other druid. I just found it interesting that there were such opposite disparities regarding ilvl and results. I’ll say more about that at the bottom of the post.

The second example came on my hunter this past weekend. Going into the weekend, my ilvl was 527.30 (according to WoW Progress).

On Saturday, we cleared the first six bosses – the extent of our previous raiding success. On Sunday, we worked through Durumu, one-shotted Primordius, and managed to down Dark Animus after several attempts.

The key for me was that I picked up the tier legs off Ji-kun on Saturday. This set off a late-night gear-swapping, gem swapping, reforging extravaganza as I moved from having the T15 2p (522 gloves, 502 chest) to the 4p (522 gloves and legs, 502 chest and shoulders). In the course of this, I dropped my Thunderforged legs and my 522 shoulders, which had both been upgraded, for lower ilevel tier gear, while also swapping out my necklace and cloak (which I seem to do almost every week or so, depending on what stats I need).

In the end, after picking up Durumu’s belt (Thunderforged) on Sunday, I managed to drop almost all of my excess Hit and Expertise. I picked up the 4p bonus and some gem sockets. And my SimDPS (new feature at WoW Progress) improved by about 7600 points.

And my ilvl dropped 1.17 points to 526.13. Which isn’t much – and it doesn’t really matter – but it still feels a little ‘aw shucks…’

For perspective, over the course of two days I dropped from the 15th to the 22nd ‘best geared’ hunter, by ilevel, on my server. Normally, I would be somewhat chagrined about this. But my gear is, without question, better than it was at this point last week.

Grumpy Elf’s post makes some great points about the fallacy of ilevel. Particularly interesting to me is the idea that not all pieces of the same ilevel have the same output value, and in some cases the disparity is remarkable**. This is certainly not new news, but the fact that this still exists suggests that there is still a ton of progress yet to be made regarding how much information most raiders need to research outside the game. I like math, but I’m not motivated enough to do all of the math required to figure out if getting a 4p bonus by ‘downgrading’ my ilevel on two pieces is better than going for the bigger number. I can certainly just assume that pieces with bonuses are generally better, but without looking at guides, Mr. Robot, and so on, I can’t be certain.

**Also of interest is the idea that a 522 weapon is the same ilvl as a 522 ring or neck. Obviously, the difference in true value is quite stark, particularly for DPS and healers.

I wonder if we will ever see a better in-game ranking system for gear than ilevel. My guess is that we probably won’t. And in the end, I personally have nothing against looking outside the game for information on tweaking my toon’s gear – in fact, it’s a fun component of this hobby for me. But it’s safe to say that a large number of players don’t do that, or don’t even know that they can. (Perhaps that’s the case with the druid that I described above.)

I suppose we’ll see, as changes in future expansions are unveiled…

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Packin’ on some Expertise-pounds with Tortos’ longbow

The ugly continues...

The ugly continues…

Epic weapons can be a funny thing. A ‘hit-or-miss’ thing, rather, when it comes to drop rate (among other things… yes, bad bad joke).

So I have to say that I feel pretty lucky to “finally” have gotten the Shattered Tortoiseshell Longbow from Tortos last night. It was my sixth kill, which means that with bonus rolls it was my eleventh and twelfth chance to get the bow. As usual, his corpse had non-hunter gear on it, but the bonus roll was finally the jackpot.

Of course, the thing looks terrible. Thank goodness for transmogrification. But seriously… it looks like it was made at the Thunder Forge, wrought of rock and stone and a shattered tortoise shell, and some other weird crap. It doesn’t look like something that you would hold at arms-length for several minutes while shooting. But I’ve generally been unhappy with the way almost all of the hunter gear has looked since, oh, I dunno… the beginning of Cataclysm. So no surprise there.

Like I said, transmog. At least Arathar, the Eye of Flame (Ragnaros) is proving to remain useful well more than a year after it stopped being so from a DPS standpoint. A true legendary, even if only in my heart!

The other thing that is so ridiculous about this bow is the gobs of expertise it has on it. At this point, shooting just about anything in the game is like shooting at a porta-pot from inside the porta-pot. Managing it was frustrating before; now, though, it’s just hilarious, because while this was a big upgrade over the LFR Durumu “crossbow,” the stat budget – over 900 hit, over 1000 expertise – is just so unnecessary that one might feel that his/her only options were to a) get even more frustrated or angry, or b) resign one’s self and start chuckling*, because the situation with hit and expertise is just getting stupid at this point.

*Or just completely snap and start cackling maniacally. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in my case. Not yet, anyway…



However, I was prepared: checking out some other hunters that have progressed further than I have recently, I realized that this is the way of the world for the time being, and there’s really nothing that I or anyone else can do about it.

So, I’m not complaining. I’ll take the upgrade!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Things I’m excited about in Patch 5.3

I had a somewhat busier work week last week, so my posting took a hit. I wrote about the one thing I really enjoyed doing, which was a diversion from the norm in some ways, but there wasn’t that much else going on, so I didn’t really have much to write about.

This week, Patch 5.3 “Escalation” goes live, so I’ll now have stuff to do on my hunter – that is, non-raiding, non-Halfhill stuff – if only because I’ll have a place to spend Valor Points again. I was thinking about writing a post about that, but I didn’t feel like writing at any time yesterday.

This morning, while maintenance is percolating, I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to write about until I read the following tweet by Big Bear Butt:

Today is patch day. Not to piss on anyone’s enthusiasm, but I feel no desire to start another grind, the patch does nothing to interest me.

And then, I knew what I wanted to talk about.

Everyone is in his or her different place in this game. Doing his or her own thing. As such, excitement levels may vary.

For me, there are two key things in 5.3 that I am immediately interested in with respect to my hunter:

1. Aspect of the (Iron) Hawk will buff Attack Power by 25% instead of 15%. I’ll take an 8.69% base increase in my total Attack Power any day. Am I excited about that? HECK YEAH I’m excited about it!

2. Item level upgrades are back. 500 VP for 8 ilvls per piece. I am capped and so ready to do this now. Doing anything that rewards Valor Points has that much more meaning for my main toon again.

There are other changes. A couple of changes – Blink Strike(s) / Intimidation, more room in the stable, some pet special attack cooldown changes, etc. – mean virtually nothing to me, because they won’t affect my raiding play or my DPS. Binding Shot being gone is sort of crappy, but once again, I rarely use it. So, as far as class changes, I’m really looking forward to raiding as Survival with Mushan in 5.3.

There is a new weekly quest area in the Barrens. That’s fine. It will be nice for alts, since it means 489 gear. However, I don’t imagine it will be much of a grind for raiding mains. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not quite another Isle of Thunder or Molten Front, grind-wise. I could be wrong though.

There’s also a new part of the legendary quest line. I’ve been ‘behind’ on that thing since the beginning, and am still collecting Secrets of the Empire. From my perspective back here in Behind Land, it’s nice to see that there is more stuff to do down the line. I’m not immediately excited about it, because I’m not there yet, but I am salivating over those ilvl 600 cloaks: the stats on those babies are just mind-boggling!

There are new pets, and pet battle changes. Nice, but don’t really care. New arena and battleground: don’t really care. Mounts, shirts, heirloom changes: don’t care. New/Heroic Scenarios? I’ll probably do them at some point, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t really affect me either way.

I find the PvP stat changes interesting, but I don’t know how I feel about them. I’ve only done a few dozen BGs this xpac, so it’s not a large part of my game. I do, however, like the Battleground Roles feature. It’s been “time” for that to happen since, well, forever.

One thing I’m feeling… well, not excited about… but I guess “relieved” is a better word for it: the nerf to Pandaria leveling XP requirements. When I finally bring my herbalist pally through the last 30-some bars to 90 and get her her flight license, my journey will be so much easier. 

On the other hand, the new Loot Specialization tab for choosing which spec you want loot for in raids and LFR is going to be great to use on my druid and warrior. I’m definitely excited about that for those toons.

I love the game, but I really live for raid success on my hunter. As such, the Aspect of the Hawk change and the return of Valor upgrades have me excited about raiding with the new-and-improved Mushan. Since this is a non-raid patch, there is understandably not as much for me to be excited about as there was in 5.2 with Throne of Thunder and all of the potential new gear.

Patches like these bring, among other things, quality of life changes, story progression, class changes, more stuff, and so on. As such, they’re less exciting in general than big raid patches like 5.2. Maintenance is still happening as I write this, but I don’t foresee ‘new grind’ being a big feature of this patch. Legendary grinds were a given; stories with some grinds are a given. To me, it’s part of the package.

My girlfriend is excited about the new pets she can farm in old raids. She loves pets, pet battles, mounts, killing rares, and so on – they provide a nice ‘other side of the game’ when she’s not kicking major ass with her raid team. So for her, the patch is a bigger deal than it is for me.

What I mainly care about is that the hunter class is getting some love in the form of the Attack Power boost, and that I have a means to improve my toon in the absence of better raid drops. Because of this, I am excited about the patch.

But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary! :)

MMO-Champion has a nice roundup of Patch 5.3 info – check it out to see all the new features!

Hunters: Tabana has posted a concise summary of the 5.3 hunter changes over at WoW Hunters Hall. Check it out! And thanks, Tabana!

Thanks for reading these musings by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

An in-game excuse to slack off

(Writing this on Wednesday evening.)

This past week-plus has been spent not doing quite as much as I normally do over the course of a day or week in WoW, following my previously detailed realization that I am suffering burnout due to over-exposure to the Valor grind(s).

While I continue to cap my hunter, I’ve been purposely slacking on every other toon. I spent a good deal less time doing just about everything that I normally do last week, except for raiding, than I have in a long time, and that was good.


We skipped last week’s Friday night alt raid due to some absences, which was totally fine by me. The main group finally stepped back into Terrace and cleared that for the first time, which was nice. We downed Garalon. We’re planning on finishing up HoF this Friday if we can get enough people (Easter this weekend means, for good reason, that our weekend raid is cancelled). We can clear Jin’rokh every week, basically, so that’s good, because many of us need the gear he drops. But Horridon will wait until April, which is fine.

Isle of Thunder and The Thunder Forge

This raid lockout – while still “young” – has been kind of fun, since Stage 4 of the assault on the Isle of the Thunder Throne is now open. While doing my dailies on my hunter on Tues., I finally got to see The Thunder Forge, get my quest to learn how to make Lightning Steel Ingots, and start working on building up a store of such ingots to put toward creating some cool “reborn” weapons.

For some reason, I got all excited about this – perhaps it’s because I’ve been learning recipes for gear from making Magnificence of Leather and Imperial Silk since 5.2 Day One, so it’s nice that my two Blacksmiths (hunter and warrior) can finally start doing the same. Not sure why Blizzard made Blacksmithing this way, since the weapons that can be made after 29 days look like they will cap out at 489, which is hardly current raid levels. I imagine that this might be their reasoning – which I think is flawed, since there’s really no grounds for the penalty – but even if it’s not, I don’t have the interest or energy to hunt for an official answer. At any rate, I’m happy to be able to do those “transmutes” now, since I have a couple of toons that can use weapons of that level – appreciating that, at this point, my interest in gearing up alts via Raid Finder is at something of an absolute all-time low.

Shado-pan Assault rep and 5.2 Valor gear

Last week’s announcement that Patch 5.3 will see the Item Upgrade NPCs returning from their respective vacations was one that, at the time, merely sparked my interest. The reduced costs (500 VP for an 8-ilvl increase per item) mean that upgrades will be more flexible and user-friendly – more like putting a gem in a piece of gear (although not exactly like it) and less like buying an entire new item. Easier to commit to.

That kind of thing, I find interesting, whether it’s the old model or the new one.

However, things were thrown into a different light this evening as I neared the “Honored” threshold (of my ongoing quest to gain rep with the Shado-pan Assault) on Mushan.

When the Valor gear was initially revealed, I glanced at it. Wow, nice trinket. Lot of Hit, but nice proc. Other pieces… most of them upgrades. Nice. No helm or boots… but those can be crafted at a later date. That’s good. Etc.

I bought the neck immediately, and shortly thereafter I purchased the trinket, then the ring and the bracers. Everything was good there – my Hit Rating was a little high for a short while, but it’s under control at the moment.

In the meantime, however, I’ve had some decent luck with a couple of other slots. I got the Thunderforged legs (528) on our very first Jin’rokh kill. Our third kill resulted in the shoulders (522) on a bonus roll. I’ve gotten several pieces in Raid Finder, but the only piece I’m able to use right now is the cloak (502) from Ji-Kun. Nevertheless, I’ve got some decent gear going for me right now, which is helping me stay competitive and contributing to our team.

However, the combination of gear that I’ve acquired from Valor and drops means that I’ve suddenly run into a weird wall. Because of the fact that I still have the T14 2p bonus going on (helm and gloves), and the legs I got are so good, and there’s so much hit (or blue sockets) on the gear that is available to me, I’ve reached a point where my need for Valor Points is rapidly diminishing. Having just reached SPA-honored, I’m seeing a small upgrade with the cloak, which I’ll buy on Thursday. However, the legs are a direct downgrade from my 528s, while the gloves would break my set bonus. So for the next month or so, I really do not need much in the way of VP.

This looks to continue to be the case once I hit revered. At that point, the belt is totally sweet – and will be a must-buy – but the chest is loaded with Hit, Expertise, and two blue sockets with a +120 Agility socket bonus. For real, Blizzard? Beg pardon, but… are you shitting me?? So that’s a big kick in the sack – although it’s still a minor upgrade as things stand with my gear right now, believe it or not, because of the Agility bump. I’ll have to reevaluate when I get there, but I can see myself going “no thanks” when the time comes. And at exalted, the shoulders (with a 700g cost?) are a slight downgrade from Jin’rokh’s, so I’ll probably pass on those too.

All of that to say that my need for VP is likely to diminish rapidly, and is likely to stay that way until 5.3 arrives and upgrades return. I’ll be hitting those babies hard when the opportunity to use them finally arrives.

– – –

A side-note about all of this – and, incidentally, the title-theme of this post – is that this could possibly go a long way toward momentarily easing my demand for VP on my hunter. With no demand for Valor – and I’m talking almost no demand for several weeks – I could possibly just forego questing on that toon for a while. This would open up more time to play other toons for fun, or to simply not play them much at all. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing at this point. I’ve got a strong desire to dig into that copy of Kingdoms of Amalur that’s been staring at me for a while from the shelf.

All I have to do is make sure that I have enough VP to buy the cloak, buy the belt, and be capped for upgrading purposes when 5.3 arrives, and I will be all set. Depending on when that happens, I could conceivably have that taken care of just from raiding, which would be nice. That’s my favorite end-game thing to do on my hunter anyway.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Patch 5.3: PTR patch notes are up! Valor upgrades are back!

On the heals of Blizzard’s announcement today of the return of Valor upgrades comes the initial Patch 5.3 PTR notes. Wow!

There is currently no new hunter class information, which is fine with me, and I won’t review all of the other pertinent changes right now – you can see them in the link above. What I’m interested in at the moment is the return of Valor Point upgrades.

To me – and by now, regular readers know that I eat up all the “choice-making” stuff as far as gear goes – this is a good thing, particularly since the costs will be reduced to 4 item levels at 250 VP, 8 (max) at 500 VP, per item. This means that players can increase their overall power with much less fear of making the “wrong” decision and wasting VP in the process. It also means that if you’re hunting for a certain drop, it’s not going to cost 1.5 weeks of VP to upgrade the item you hope to replace soon if that’s your best option in the interim.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a good thing.

I know that there are other viewpoints out there, including the guy posting, in the comments of Blizzard’s Valor Point upgrade blog post, that he refuses to upgrade, ever, and will probably not get raid invites because of that stance. This position baffles me, because, in my mind, if there’s an upgrade, you take it. And if you’re killing raid bosses, you’re earning VP, so you have the currency. So the upgrade is there. So you take it, if it’s the best option after taking into account cost per VP (and other factors). But everyone has a different perspective, I suppose.

I like the changes – although I must admit that I had reached the point where, when the mechanic was removed in 5.2, I didn’t mind at all. It’s nice to be in a situation where the decisions on what to buy with VP are a little more straightforward at the moment. But the mechanic works well with Blizzard’s current M.O., where the even numbered patches have almost all of the new gear, and the odd patches seem to have the upgrade mechanic, giving people something to spend their excess VP on. It works as a slight incremental nerf to content due to an added progressive buff to player power, and makes stat management a little more interesting for people like me who eat that kind of thing up.

I’ll be honest – I hadn’t really thought about Item Upgrades – or Patch 5.3 – at all, since Patch 5.2 dropped, until today. I will say, however, that it’s fun to see how Blizzard really is keeping its patch schedule a bit tighter than in times past, and to see what may be on the horizon. I’ll be watching for any hunter updates, as will many others.

Basically, I’m one of those guys who loves new news about what’s happening in WoW. I’m not alone, am I right?  :)

– – –

Thanks for reading this blurb by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Patch 5.2 gear added to Ask Mr. Robot

The word came down this morning: Mr. Robot has mostly completed the gargantuan task of adding the 5.2 gear to his database.

What you see when you load your character into Ask Mr. Robot today

What you see when you load your character into Ask Mr. Robot today

This means that when 5.2 goes live – and every indication is that this will happen tomorrow – players will have access to detailed upgrade lists for every slot. Not only does this allow us to reforge the new gear as we add it, but it also means that we can judge which items are bigger upgrades when we decide how to spend valor points and bonus rolls.

For those who don’t know, by clicking on an item you wish to find upgrades for, a list is generated of all of the items in that slot that are pertinent, meaning all of the upgrades as well as some of the downgrades. On that list, there are three “Ranking” check boxes: None, Absolute, Relative. Checking “Absolute” sorts the list by the raw values of each item. On the other hand “Relative,” which is what I use 99.99% of the time, sorts the list by the value of each item relative to the rest of your current gear.

This is particularly useful when it comes to looking at the value of a tier piece over a non-tier piece. For example, a 502 Raid Finder T15 Helm probably lists as worse than a 522 non-tier VP helm on the “Absolute” list, but if you already have one piece of T15, the value of that LFR T15 helm could jump to be slightly or even significantly better than the VP one because of the tier bonus, and Mr. Robot’s “Relative” list reflects that.

At any rate, here’s another look from Mr. Robot, comparing the weapons available in 5.2, relative to the one I’ve got equipped currently:

5.2 weapons vs. LFR Taoren

5.2 weapons vs. LFR Taoren

As you can see, I’ve got a lot of work to do, although I can very easily remove the heroic 5.0 and 5.2 gear from my list by un-checking the boxes to the right of those items, since it is unlikely I will see any of those pieces, all things being equal. But that’s a personal thing – I am not the best hunter out there by a long shot, so it’s a practical way to clean up my lists.

– – –

Check out the link to Mr. Robot’s blog post – there is a ton of great information about the updated tools there. It’s really a very valuable resource, so I encourage anyone to play around with them!

There are many other great resources. Icy Veins is in the process of being updated. WoW Hunters Hall has a bunch of great 5.2 resources. MMO-Champion has a 5.2 compendium that is being updated all day today as things change. Warcraft Hunters Union and WoW Insider have a lot of great info as well. Take a look around – there’s a lot to sink your teeth into as we change over to new raids and new stories in 5.2. I’m excited!

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan Etc. Comments are welcome!

The wrong motivation

A while ago, I ranked on Feng-10N as a SV hunter.

I’m not going to deny it – it was awesome. It was particularly so because I was not expecting it to happen. It was the first time I had ever ranked, and you can only ever have that first time once.

Since then, I haven’t ranked on anything. For a short time, this caused me to wonder if my damage was going down, but it hasn’t been. There are just more guilds beating Feng – and therefore more hunters – and so I can’t seem to crack the top 200. Which is fine, because that’s not my motivation.

Ranking again would be cool. Killing more bosses would be way, way cooler.

However, last night something happened which caused me to consider doing something this weekend that, upon reflection, seems asinine.

What happened was that a player I know ranked ridiculously high on Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. When I heard about it, I checked WoL and found that this person – normally a situation-appropriate SV/BM hunter – ranked as MM.

It was an interesting temptation. My girlfriend said, rather flippantly, “I guess if you want to rank, go as MM.”

Yeah, I thought. I could spend a couple of days practicing, and then bring a new MM version of Mushan into Mogu’shan Vaults, etc. on Saturday night. Most people don’t play MM anyway, right? If I applied myself, I could probably get my name on a few of the charts. My heart was momentarily excited.

Then, within a few short moments, I came plummeting back down to earth and realized that that was probably one of the dumber ideas I had had in the past year or so.

Yes, maybe I could rank on a few fights. Maybe I could rank on Zor’lok, too.

But would we even kill him, if I fought him in MM spec?

– – –

As a guild, we’ve defeated Zor’lok three times. The last time he died, which was last Sunday, it was the closest we’ve had to a full guild run / our regular team. He’s still rough – we’re fine until the floor phase, and then it gets shaky. I’m playing as close to the top of my game as I can, trying to avoid damage and deal as much damage as possible myself. Everyone is the same – we’re all playing with lightning at our finger-tips, dancing around and fighting as well as we can, trying to kill him before he kills us.

Taking MM Mushan into a fight like that would be a bad thing for several reasons.

1. It’s a selfish, stupid f@%king reason to play a spec like that. For serious.

2. I’d like to play MM again someday, but I’ve played SV consistently for more than a year now, and even with the changes the spec/class has gone through, I’ve been constantly familiar with it – SV fits me as close to a glove as any spec could in this game right now. On the other hand, even the idea of playing MM seems foreign to me right now, and at this time I don’t necessarily think I really even want to play the spec.

3. Making my teammates work harder to kill any of the bosses – even the “easier” ones – goes against how I view my role in raids, ethically and even morally. And it’s almost certain that I would be less effective playing Marks than I am as SV.

4. Who really gives a crap if I rank on anything in 10N? Or on any fight? You don’t, do you? No, you don’t. None of the other hunters, whether they themselves rank or not, cares if I rank. My guildies really don’t care if I rank. Nobody cares if I rank.

I don’t even really care if I rank, to be honest.

5. Ranking as MM would feel hollow.

I know that BM is supposed to be the best spec, but SV is the best spec for me, and I bring my best “me” to my raid team when I’m playing SV.

And the truth is that most hunters are playing SV or BM, which is evidenced by things such as the fact that the threshold for ranking as MM on Zor’lok-10N, as of last night, was only 64,268 DPS(e) – a number that, as SV, I regularly top by a good 15-18K. The threshold for ranking as SV was 94,523 as of Sunday night, which is a full 47% higher than the MM threshold. There is an obvious disparity there – the true competition is in the SV/BM ranking charts. And so, really, I don’t even know that I would feel good at all if I managed to rank on anything as MM – as a “bigger fish in a relatively smaller pond” – particularly when taking into consideration the potential detriment that my inexperience with MM and my lack of usual performance could hurt my team.

So it turned out to be a pretty bad idea. Thankfully, I didn’t try it.

– – –

To those who love and excel at playing Marksmanship, I salute you. I would love to play MM and play it well, but right now I’m sticking with SV, rankings be damned. SV feels right, and it also feels like the right thing to do. Someday, I’m sure I’ll pick up MM and give it a whirl, but it will be for the love of the spec and the game, not because I want to try to faceroll* onto an ultimately meaningless rankings chart.

*Not saying I would definitely faceroll onto the MM charts – I’m just self-directing some sarcasm with that comment.

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Thanks for reading this (description of a thought process) by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!